Sounds weird saying it, but for the first time since …. well, ever, it’s the Bears defense that’s the real question mark.
The offense seems to be a given after putting up 41 points in Week 1.
Knowing that, tonight’s game at Lambeau Field should be interesting offensively, and long.
Because neither defense looks ready to stop anyone.
The three biggest issues entering the game are the health of the Bears’ Charles Tillman and Brian Urlacher and the Packers’ Greg Jennings.
Look for Tillman and Urlacher to play, Jennings probably won’t, but their effectiveness should be limited.
That means you’ll have an injured Tillman covering James Jones or Jordy Nelson and a recovering Urlacher trying to track down Jermichael Finley or Cedric Benson. If I’m Lovie Smith, I don’t like either scenario, or that Kelvin Hayden is set to see plenty of time at cornerback.
Hayden was giving a cushion Sunday that Aaron Rodgers is sure to pick apart, the same way Jay Cutler will if the Packers’ defense does the same thing.
The Bears’ defensive reality is a product of general manager Phil Emery’s choice to concentrate on offensive improvements in free agency.
For years, that concentration was on the defense.
When he did try to improve the defense, it didn’t seem to work out. Third-round free safety Brandon Hardin is long since injured for the season and none of the three defensive backs the Bears took in the draft are on the active roster. Of the defenders picked, only Shea McClellin is.
Which means, outside of Hayden, this is the same secondary Emery tried to improve in the draft out there again to face Rodgers and a Packers offense that put up nearly 600 passing yards and 62 points in two wins over the Bears last season.
The thing Bears fans need to understand is that, although the Packers’ offense struggled in some ways against the 49ers in Week 1, they still threw for more than 300 yards and scored 22 points against one of the best defenses in the NFL.
A defense faster, stronger and all around better than the one the Bears will send out to Lambeau Field tonight.
The question then becomes if the Bears’ offense, clearly better than the 49ers’ offense, is good enough to make up for the defense.
And frankly, with the Bears as the subject, it just feels odd asking that.
But that’s the reality of the NFL. To improve like the Bears have on offense, a team has to make concessions elsewhere.
We’ll find out tonight if those concessions cost too much.
The pick: Green Bay needs a win, and this game will be a shootout where the best offense will win. I’d take Rodgers over any QB in the league in that scenario.
Packers 42, Bears 38
• Jon Styf is the Northwest Herald sports editor. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.